If you read my blog, you know that I have been running and that this is one of the main reasons for my current health.. I wanted to start from the beginning. From BEFORE I became the runner that I am, because I don’t want anyone to think that my running is a God-given gift that I never had to struggle with. Oh No, at one point in my life, I HATED running…. and that was my excuse not to.

Running was NOT my thing. I did track for a season in high school and always told the coaches I REFUSE to do distance running… citing CF as my reason. So instead, I ran the 200…. most of the time coming in last or second to last in my heat (which was the third and last one). I usually crossed the finish line hacking and wheezing, reaching for my inhaler as my salty sweat dripped down my face. As soon as the season ended I quickly decided that I was NOT a runner, I told myself my lungs couldn’t handle it.

Whenever I had to run for field hockey I always dreaded it, always told myself I couldn’t handle it. I was NOT a runner. My heart would start racing immediately, I was always the “loud breather” of the group, and  I felt like my lungs were weighed down with concrete. I took lots of walk breaks, and thought the cough I experienced during and after those runs was a BAD thing (when in fact it was all the mucus being cleared out!)

My Senior year of high school I started running a bit on my own. However, I told myself, because I had CF… I could NOT run any further than a mile or 2, with lots of walking breaks. And because I told myself that, for about a year I was limited to a mile or 2… never more. Have you ever tried to work out when you were crying? It is so difficult to breathe, and the negativity from the cry only works against you. That is what happens when you tell yourself you can’t. Your body, filled with negativity, physically won’t allow you to run with ease.

 Finally, I began to realize that this running was helping! I felt great! On the days I didn’t run, I felt tired, had a tighter cough, and had little motivation to do much. Soon, I began to kick up my running…. when I felt like I couldn’t go anymore… I kept going.

My freshman year of college, I was eventually up to 3 miles. Some days, I would have to stop running and just cough and cough and cough until I felt like I was going to throw up… and sometimes I did. But I had to push past that. I still remember the first time running a full lap around “The Boulevard” in Portland Maine. The 3.5 mile trail seemed endless to me, my lungs felt awful, I was breathing so loud and so fast that you could probably hear me a mile away, people were passing me left and right, I remember Kyle cheering me on telling me I could do it as my legs got weak and I began to whimper like a baby. And once I finished, I felt so proud. I just ran 3.5 miles!

Now, running “The Boulevard” is an easy run for me. In fact, last summer I ran around it TWICE when training for Falmouth. Now, 3 mile days are my short runs. Now, I am training first for the 7 mile Falmouth Road Race and then a half marathon. If you had told me in high school that I could run 7 miles I would have told you that you’re crazy. Even worse, if you told me I could run a half marathon…. forget about it. Why? Because back then, I told myself I CAN’T. A few days ago, my calendar  said “If you tell yourself you can, you’re right: and if you tell yourself you can’t, you’re right”-Mary Kay Ash. Nothing has been closer to the truth. I told myself I was NOT a runner… I told myself I couldn’t do it, and what’s worse, I used CF as an excuse for telling myself I CAN’T. Because I told myself I couldn’t run, my lungs always felt like they were holding me back. Because of my perceived inability to breathe when I was running, I told myself I didn’t like it. Yet, when it helps my health so much… I have no choice but to learn to love it.

So from someone who hated running, who “couldn’t” run… how did I come to be the run-crazed CF-er today?

1) I found ways to enjoy it. I started my running on the treadmill and got so incredibly bored. So outside runs became the norm. I had to find ways to enjoy running, or else I knew I would never get out there. So my boyfriend got me an ipod shuffle, so that I no longer had to hold my bulky classic iPod. I made a sweet playlist (see My Blog Post: Songs To Pump You Up or Rockmyrun.com) I set goals and signed up for road races. Running is always fun when you are part of a group of people trying to reach the same goal. I got friends to run with me at first, having someone depending on you for a workout forces you to get out there… and is a lot less lonely!

2) I adjusted my runs to my CF. Because my mouth always gets so dry and gross from all the coughing, I found a mini waterbottle that sits in a holster to clip to my shorts. I make sure to hydrate all day before. At one point, I was taking salt pills (but they were more salt than I needed), I got carnation instant breakfast to replenish calories burned, I made sure to do my inhaler before (though now I no longer need it), I stalk up on gatorade for my longer runs, and I always allow myself to walk when I need it.

3) I got a better attitude. I started telling myself I can. Once I saw the success my runs had on my health… I couldn’t stop. Yesterday marked 2 and a half years since my last clean-out, which coincides with the time that I started kicking up my running mileage. Running became a challenge against my health, and I started to win. What better motivation exists than that?

So I didn’t start out as the headstrong runner that I am today. No, I started out as an excuse-maker and a nay-sayer… a hater of running. My advice?

a) Start out slow. Do what you can, and only then start to push yourself. You don’t have to be a marathon-runner to be a runner. Of course you’re going to feel winded if you try to do too much before you’re ready.

b) Give running a chance. If I never stopped saying that I hated to run… I’m not sure I would have the health that I do today. To me, that is just another excuse.

c) If nothing else, do it for your health. I can’t think of any negatives of running that outweigh the benefits.